Speaker: Pastor Darin Browne
Neville Chamberlain tried to appease the evil of Adolf Hitler in 1938 and claimed peace in our time!
We live in a time of conflict, with wars in the Ukraine and now Israel and Gaza. Many Christians I talk to feel conflicted, because they love Israel and understand the great evil of the Hamas attacks, but also recognise that Israel’s response has seen innocent people die. There are deaths, pain, and destruction on both sides. So, what should we as believers pray?
Psalms 122:6-9 (ESV)
Pray for the peace of Jerusalem! “May they be secure who love you! Peace be within your walls and security within your towers!”
For my brothers and companions’ sake I will say, “Peace be within you!”
For the sake of the house of the LORD our God, I will seek your good.
Psalms 29:11 (ESV)
May the LORD give strength to his people! May the LORD bless his people with peace!
The name Jerusalem literally means “city of peace.” But what kind of peace?
THE PERVERSION OF PEACE
On the TV people are protesting for peace, saying Israel should cease their war, and they are quoting this…”From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.” The roots of this phrase are anti semantic, and those promoting it may be unaware that what’s behind this is the idea that peace will only come with the destruction of Israel, including every Jew. You may have thought Israel and Hamas were at peace before October 7th, but Hamas fired more than 4380 rockets a year from Gaza before this war. As Golda Meir said, “You cannot negotiate peace with someone who has come to kill you.”
Any person who respects life should desire tranquility, not innocent deaths on either side, not revenge, but peace. Yet with everyone talking about and frantically pursuing peace, why do we as human beings never seem to achieve it? Could it be that the peace the world claims to seek is not really peace at all?
Ezekiel 13:10 (ESV)
they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash,
I believe we should pray for peace. Not the world’s version of peace, not a whitewashed wall, a cover up or a simmering war, but what God defines as peace. Israel and the Palestinians have not had peace, they’ve had simmering war. The Balkans is the same. North and South Korea don’t have peace either. Many people’s homes don’t have peace. They have silence, stonewalls, but not true peace. Let’s look at what God says about His perfect peace – shalom…
THE TRUE MEANING OF PEACE (SHALOM)
Rabbi Robert Kahn capsulated the distinctives of “Roman” peace and “Hebrew” shalom:
Roman Pax vs Shalom
One can dictate peace; shalom is a mutual agreement.
Peace is a temporary pact; shalom is a permanent agreement.
One can make a peace treaty; shalom is the condition of peace.
Peace can be negative; Shalom is positive.
Peace, absence of commotion; the presence of serenity.
Peace can be partial; shalom is whole.
Peace can be piecemeal; shalom is complete.
We will never have true shalom on earth until there is true peace in the hearts of all men. In over 3400 years of recorded human history, there has been just over 200 years without conflict. Mankind knows little about true peace.
Luke 2:14 (ESV)
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”
So, who is God pleased with? Believers, which means we have a supernatural access to peace that the world cannot understand.
Shalom peace is far more than the absence of conflict, war, or stress. It means the presence of harmony, unity, and cooperation. It means wholeness, well-being, contentment, and safety.
A. SHALOM IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
Shalom can refer to peace between nations. Israel is pursuing war right now because any peace they try to make while Hamas has influence will never be a true shalom. Solomon, unlike his father, knew peace…
1 Kings 4:24-25 (ESV)
For he had dominion over all the region west of the Euphrates from Tiphsah to Gaza, over all the kings west of the Euphrates. And he had peace on all sides around him. And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon.
1 Chronicles 22:9 (ESV)
Behold, a son shall be born to you who shall be a man of rest. I will give him rest from all his surrounding enemies. For his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quiet to Israel in his days.
Shalom can also refer to a time of settled secure social and economic prosperity. It’s the safe, prosperous peace. It’s when someone says, “Go in peace.” Hamas knows nothing of this kind of peace.
B. SHALOM BETWEEN PEOPLE
Shalom can mean unity, cooperation, and contentment in human relationships, inside of and outside of the home. Peace between family members, between friends, and even between enemies, if we work at it, we can have a shalom peace.
Hebrews 12:14 (ESV)
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.
C. SHALOM WITHIN PEOPLE
Shalom also can mean a personal sense of wholeness and well-being, including freedom from anxiety and fear. Peace in your own soul, and peace with God.
Psalms 4:8 (ESV)
In peace I will both lie down and sleep; for you alone, O LORD, make me dwell in safety.
Psalms 119:165 (ESV)
Great peace have those who love your law; nothing can make them stumble.
When Fiona and I lost all our money in an investment collapse, including our house, it was a time of tremendous pressure. But we knew that, despite what was going on around us, we could trust God. We had an unshakable peace in our hearts, and those who knew us at that time were amazed and often commented on how calm we seemed given that we had lost everything. Peace!
THE DISRUPTION OF PEACE
What causes the lack of peace every human being experiences? Sin!
Adam and Eve knew perfect peace between each other and themselves and God until they sinned. Sin is defiance and rebellion against God and His standards. This sin brought shame and rebellion, and it destroyed harmony between men and women, peoples and nations, mankind and God.
Romans 12:17-18 (ESV)
Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honourable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.
THE RESTORATION OF PEACE
The entire Bible is the story of God’s plan to restore shalom, His perfect peace. It’s what Jesus, God’s Son, is all about, and it’s what He laid His life down for…to restore peace between mankind and God. Jesus came to provide forgiveness and freedom from sin and the hope of a personal and eternal relationship with God. That’s why Jesus is called the Prince of Peace!
Romans 5:1 (ESV)
Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
For shalom peace to be restored, two things must happen…
1. SIN AND SATAN MUST BE DESTROYED
Sin destroyed peace for mankind in the Garden of Eden, so true shalom will only be obtained when the power of Satan is destroyed. It’s true in governments, and it’s true in individuals.
Colossians 1:20 (ESV)
and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Jesus defeated Satan on the cross, and His blood opens the way for us to be reconciled, at peace with, God Himself.
2. JESUS MUST REIGN
Ezekiel 37:26-27 (ESV)
I will make a covenant of peace with them. It shall be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will set them in their land and multiply them and will set my sanctuary in their midst forevermore. My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
Satan is a defeated foe, but he is still kicking. But he won’t be around forever. Look at the world, Israel back in the land, wars, rumours of wars, earthquakes, famines, I believe that Jesus is not far away from returning. One day soon Jesus will return and reign, and sin and death will be defeated. Talking about that day…
Isaiah 25:8 (ESV)
He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth,
for the LORD has spoken.
However, just knowing that Jesus is the Prince of Peace does not guarantee peace in your life. You and I have to appropriate it, you have to take hold of it, and Jesus has to stop being a nice guy, a good teacher or a last resort. He must become Lord of our lives, for then and only then will we know true shalom.
HOW CAN WE TRULY KNOW PEACE?
John 16:33 (ESV)
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
We are never going to see true shalom peace in this world until Jesus returns. It’s impossible because mankind is so selfish and self-seeking. You won’t see it between nations, and you won’t see it in marriages and families or individuals.
People talk about peace as if they understand it, but the Bible says Jesus is the way, and there is no other way. Comedian Dave Barry says his therapist recommended finishing what you start as a way of feeling at peace. He says, “So far, I have finished two bags of M&Ms, a chocolate cake and a carton of beer, and I feel better already.” Sadly, for him, and all of us, it simply doesn’t work.
Jesus promises peace but says we will have trials and tribulations. His peace can fill your heart, even when everything else around you is bedlam. Here’s the steps to finding that true inner peace.
1. KNOW THE LORD
No Jesus, no peace. Know Jesus, know peace. How can you know true, inner peace, that true shalom peace, without knowing the Prince, and source of peace?
Colossians 3:15 (ESV)
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.
If you truly know Jesus you can truly know inner, lasting peace, shalom peace.
2. CONTROL YOUR MIND
You cannot know peace in your life if you don’t do something about your mind. How many of us lie awake at night churning, even when we don’t want to, and we know it is counterproductive? To experience peace, you have to control your mind, right?
Isaiah 26:3 (ESV)
You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.
Peace is only going to be obtained if you can control your crazy mind! How do you do this? By staying it on the Lord, focusing on Him. Take your eyes off your troubles and place them on Jesus, through His Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:6 (ESV)
For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace.
There are two steps towards controlling your mind. And listen, don’t excuse being a worry wart. Worry is a sin, so repent of it and deal with it appropriately.
1. Take Every Thought Captive
2 Corinthians 10:5 (ESV)
We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ,
So, a thought, a worry, a fear, a concern comes into your mind, and you take it captive and so “No, you have no place here, and no power here!”
2. Fill Your Mind with Only Godly Things
Philippians 4:6-7 (ESV)
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Let’s work through this. It says refuse to be anxious, instead pray and be thankful. Being thankful for all we have from the Lord is key. Thankful people are more at peace than ungrateful people, it’s a fact.
When we do this, it says the peace of God, Greek EIRENE, meaning peace, rest, quietness, security and trust. It’s the closest thing to Hebrew SHALOM.
This amazing inner peace guards your heart and mind. Let’s summarise, the more thankful and prayerful you are, the more peace you will experience. But the very next verse reveals the next step…
Philippians 4:8 (ESV)
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
3. GROW IN THE SPIRIT
Galatians 5:22 (ESV)
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
Peace, it’s a fruit of the Spirit. The fruit of the Spirit is not a gift, it’s something that you can cultivate, tend, enhance, and grow over time. How do you grow it?
You do everything you can to put God’s Word into your heart. Do quiet times, use our reading plan, come to church, hang out with Christians, serve the Lord, volunteer in and around church, listen to worship during the day. All these things grow the fruit of shalom peace in your life.
If you don’t grow this gift in your life, it’s a downhill spiral. Some people, even Christians, worry and get upset about things that have been said and done to them. The more you think about it, the more you fail to forgive, the more bitterness comes into your heart. Peace is the antidote to worry, fear and bitterness.
Hebrews 12:14-15 (ESV)
Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled;
Don’t tolerate a root of bitterness, grow good fruit from a healthy plant!
PEACE BEYOND COMPREHENSION
This peace that is encompassed in the Hebrew word shalom is available to you right here today.
The first step is to ask Jesus into your heart. You will never find perfect peace without Jesus.
And if you know Jesus, you need to make the decision to pursue peace by controlling your mind.
Philippians 4:7 (ESV)
And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
If you’re a worrier, if you lay awake and night and cannot turn your brain off, you need the Prince of Peace to guard your heart and mind. This is your chance to give it all to Him and let Jesus sort your peace out!